New Zealand is once again punching above its weight after topping the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to support for women entrepreneurs and businesswomen.
One changemaker is Elisha Watson, who gave up a career as a lawyer three years ago to found Nisa, an ethical underwear and swimwear store.
“We do what we do because we sell awesome underwear every day and people love it and that allows us to employ more women from refugee migrant backgrounds,” Watson said.
New Zealand ranked fourth globally for its support of women entrepreneurs and business owners, according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2020.
NZ has dropped three places, with Mastercard’s Ruth Riviere saying the drop was "not because New Zealand has gone backwards in any way, but it's because other countries have done even more".
The report says New Zealand is lagging behind due to a reluctance by some women to start a business and insufficient paid parental leave.
Women can also face problems around securing financial backers, particularly if the product on offer is a uniquely female one.
“When you're listening to an idea or the possibility of an idea in an industry that is completely foreign to you or pink or all the rest, that can perhaps switch off the ears to potential investors,” a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, Janine Swail, said.
Having leadership examples is also key.
“How do we help them identify how they can go from a business idea discussed over a glass of wine or at the kitchen table, to actually putting a business model together and in place and walking away from a secure environment,” Swail said.
Watson said she has seen an increase in social enterprises founded by women, but wants more “not to overthink it” and take the plunge.
“Men are better at being, ‘It'll be alright, I'm probably great at it, let's do it,’ whereas women want to be experts in everything,” she said.